The Way Too Early Rule 5 Protection Preview

We are still over 6 months away from the Phillies needing to make decisions about who to protect in the Rule 5 draft. This list will change over the season as players fall back and others step up. However, I feel like this exercise highlights players that are reaching a critical point in their development, as well as highlighting players who sit on the fence between major league prospects and organizational fodder. For the purpose of this exercise, I am considering all eligible players (you can find a complete list here).

The Locks:

  • J.P. Crawford
  • Rhys Hoskins
  • Frankyln Kilome
  • Seranthony Dominguez
  • Andrew Pullin

Hoskins and Crawford should get their 40 man spots in late spring or into the summer. There were some that thought Pullin might have gotten taken this winter, and he has done nothing but hit since that point. Kilome is probably the second best pitching prospect in the system and is nearing the high minors. Seranthony Dominguez is in the same group. He only got through the Rule 5 draft last year because he only had 50 innings in full season ball.

The Injured:

  • Victor Arano

The Phillies say Arano should be back this summer after hurting his arm this spring. At his best, Arano looked like a late inning reliever with two plus or better pitches and plus control. If he can get back healthy, he should be a lock to be protected and might even be major league ready.

Need to Prove Something:

  • Austin Davis
  • Tyler Viza
  • Alexis Rivero
  • Malquin Canelo
  • Shane Watson
  • Hoby Milner
  • Brandon Leibrandt

Davis has been off the map for a while, but he has come on strong so far and Joe Jordan hinted the Phillies thought about him as a starter. Regardless of role, Davis is a lefty who has routinely around 95 and up to 98 at times. He is old for Clearwater, but with the major league dearth of lefties, he has a chance to establish himself. Tyler Viza is off to poor start, but he is young and has shown the stuff to be a back end starter. If he can turn it around, he could be interesting to a team as a near MLB ready pitcher. Rivero had a great 2015 season, but has been just kind of ok since then. He has a good fastball and profiles as a middle reliever, but like others we will get to later, he is in AA and that makes him a positive break away from the majors. This will be Canelo’s second year of eligibility, and the skinny shortstop is off to a good start with a 12 to 16 walk to strikeout rate in AA. His glove might be major league ready, but the Phillies will need to determine if his bat is good enough to intrigue another team. Shane Watson is having a bit of a career renaissance with his velocity returning. He is having mixed success as a starter for Reading, but he is interesting from a Rule 5 context because a team could see him as a reliever. Milner was taken in the Rule 5 draft this past season by the Indians, but with a marginal fastball he is not a lock to be a major league contributor. Leibrandt is a command and control lefty who is buried on the Phillies depth chart, but AA starters are worth keeping an eye on, especially if they might have a bullpen role.

The Free Agents:

  • Carlos Tocci
  • Jesen Therrien
  • Mitch Walding
  • Yacksel Rios
  • Chace Numata
  • Jiandido Tromp
  • Miguel Nunez

Nunez, Therrien, and Rios form the core of the Reading bullpen. Rios and Therrien are off to hot starts with a collective 6 walks and 48 strikeouts in 30 innings. Rios has a biggest fastball and Therrien has the deeper arsenal. Both have a chance to be major league middle relievers, and given their success in AA, they should see AAA at some point soon. Carlos Tocci is still only 21 and is off to a blistering start. If he keeps this up, he could finally force the Phillies’ hands and make them protect him on the 40 man roster. Numata is off to a slow start in AA, but he hit well enough in Clearwater last year to not right off. Mitch Walding has had a weird career, and is probably not in danger of being taken so if the Phillies want him back they probably will only need to re-sign him. Miguel Nunez has the best stuff of any of the Reading relievers, but he has been unable to find the strike zone for over a year. Jiandido Tromp is probably a 4th outfielder, and his questionable plate discipline probably undoes him, but he does have surprising power.

Image by Baseball Betsy

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.